Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (2022)

Application

Fiber Optic connectors and cables are present in nearly every communications project that we might sell into, be it a DAS installation or a Base Station with wireless backhaul, you can be certain that fiber jumpers and cabling are being used somewhere in that network. Having a general understanding of fiber optics and the different fiber and connector types that are available will allow you to have a more productive conversation with your customer.

Some Fiber Basics: Transmitting Signals with Light

Digital Light Signals – Lasers inside the equipment generate the light that the fiber cables carry.

Just as copper cables use pulses of electricity to carry signals across a copy wire, Fiber Optic cable uses pulses of light. For digital communication we transmit in ones and zeros. For copper, the difference between a one and a zero is a change or variation in the electric pulse within a certain acceptable range. Tokeep it really simple, the presence of a pulse at a certain time is a one (1) and the absence of a pulse is a zero (0). The same principle is used for fiber optics only instead of electrical pulses we use pulses of light. A laser source inside the hardware is used to turn the light on and off. For Fiber Optics,again keeping it as simple as possible, the presence of a light pulse at a certain time is a one (1) while the absence of a light pulse is a zero (0). To further simplify it –light on = 1, light off = 0.

The Optical Core – a glass tube (core) propagates the light signals through the fiber cable.

Glass is inherently reflective and is a perfect medium for transporting light. Because of this, fiber optic cables use a glass tube (core) in their center to transport the light pulses generated by the lasers. These light pulses travel (propagate) down the glass core by reflecting (bouncing) off of the sides. Other than the original laser, the transported signal does not require any power whatsoever, the light reflecting inside the core is what carries the signal through the fiber cable. The signal does weaken the farther it travels and will eventually need to be regenerated but not before it has traveled quite a long way. Some fiber optic cables can carry signals for 60 miles or more before they need regenerated.

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (1)

The center of the fiber, or the Core, plays a big role in the quality and distance the signal can travel through the fiber. Core size is a big factor in how far the signal will travel. In general,the smaller the core the farther the optical signal (light pulse) will gobefore it needs regenerated.

Later we will get into a bit more detail on Single Mode and Multi-mode Fiber cables but for now understand thatSingle Mode Fiber has a much smaller core than Multimode Fiber. This smaller core keeps the reflections tighter and on a more direct path thus allowing the optical signal to travel farther.

Standard Fiber Core Sizes

  • Multimode Fiber Core Size:50um and 62.5um
  • Single Mode Fiber Core Size:8 – 9um

Note: Core measurement is in microns (um)

In General, Single Mode (SM) fiber is used for long distances or higher bandwidth needs and uses a laser has its light source while Multimode (MM) Fiber uses an LED as its light source and is used for short distances or less bandwidth intensive applications.

(Video) Fiber optic cable: Multimode vs Single-mode
Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (2)

Wavelengths – The light that is traveling through the core

Without getting into too much detail we need to talk about wavelengths. Just like copper cables carry different RF frequencies, fiber cable carries different frequencies of light orwavelengths. To keep it simple, think of the wavelength as a color of light and each color of light takes its own path down the core of the fiber and will not interfere with the other colors of light that might be traveling down the same fiber.(Basically, what we have just described is wavelength division multiplexing WDM or DWDM)

The light source determines the wavelength. Lasers can be tuned to send specific wavelengths down the fiber core. And since each wavelength takes a different path down the core of the fiber, some fiber types are better suited for some wavelengths. As you will see, Multimode Fiber transports light signals at different wavelengths than Single Mode Fiber.

Standard Fiber Wavelengths

  • Multimode Fiber:850nm and 1300nm
  • Single Mode Fiber:1310nm and 1550nm

Note: Wavelength is measured in nanometers

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (3)

Fiber Optic Cable Types

Typically customers will ask for either multimode or single mode fiber cable. They may be able to give you some specifics but not always. They may rely on you to decide the exact type of fiber they need. Every now and then you may have a more technical customer that asks for Fiber cable but gives you a specific type like OM3 fiber. Well what does that mean? What is OM3 or OM4 Fiber?

(Video) Single Mode vs Multimode Fiber Optic Cable (Single mode or multimode fiber)

This section will review the more technical naming conventions and specifications for both Multimode and Single Mode Fiber.

Multimode Fibers – OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4 and OM5

Multimode fibers are identified by the OM (optical mode) designation and their specifications are outlined by the ISO/IEC 11801 standard. Multimode cable disperses the light into multiple paths as it travels down the core. This allows for higher bandwidth over short to medium distances. However, on longer cable runs, multiple paths of light can cause distortion at the receiving end, resulting in an unclear and incomplete data transmission. For this reason, Multimode is generally only used for short distance applications like data centers.

Types of Multimode Fiber Cable and Specifications

OM1

  • Jacket Color – Orange
  • Core Size – 62.5um
  • Data Rate – 1Gb @ 850nm wavelength
  • Distance – Up to 300 meters
  • Application– Short-haul networks, Local Area Networks(LANs) & private networks

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (4)

OM2

  • Jacket Color – Orange
  • Core Size – 50um
  • Data Rate – 1Gb @ 850nm wavelength
  • Distance – Up to 600 meters
  • Application– Short-haul networks, Local Area Networks(LANs) & private networks
  • Generally used for shorter distances. Has twice the distance capacity has OM1

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (5)

OM3 – Laser-Optimized Multimode

  • Jacket Color – Aqua
  • Core Size – 50um
  • Data Rate – 10Gb @ 850nm wavelength
  • Distance – Up to 300 meters
  • Uses fewer modes of light, enabling increased speeds
  • Able to run 40GB or 100GB up to 100 meters utilizing an MPO connector
  • Application– Larger Private Networks

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (6)

OM4 – Laser Optimized Multimode

  • Jacket Color – Aqua
  • Core Size – 50um
  • Data Rate – 10G @ 850nm wavelength
  • Distance – Up to 550 meters
  • Able to run 100GB up to 150 meters utilizing an MPO connector
  • Application– High-Speed Networks, Data Centers, Financial Centers and Corporate Campuses

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (7)

(Video) OM1 - OM2 - OM3 - OM4 - OM5 Fiber cables - What is the difference?

OM5 – The latest and greatest in Multimode Fiber

  • Jacket Color – Lime Green
  • Fully compatible and can mate with OM3 and OM4 cabling
  • Utilizes a wider range of wavelengths between 850nm and 953nm
  • Designed to support Short Wavelength Division Multiplexing (SWDM)
  • Can Transmit 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s
  • Application– High-speed Networks and Data Centers that require greater link distances and higher speeds.

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (8)

Multimode Fiber Summary

Multimode fiber has come a long way in 30 years. It has evolved with the growing demand for more speed. Since OM1 and OM2 fiber could not support the higher speeds, OM3 and OM4 became the main choice for multimode fiber to support 25G, 40G and 100G Ethernet. With even greater demands on the horizon, OM5 was developed to extend the benefits of multimode fiber in data centers.

Single Mode Fibers – OS1 and OS2

Single Mode fibers are identified by the designation OS or Optical Single-mode Fiber. Single Mode cable has a much smaller core (8-9um) than multimode cable and uses a single path (mode) to carry the light. The main difference between single mode OS1 and OS2 is cable construction rather than optical specifications. OS1 type cable uses a tight buffered construction while OS2 is a loose tube or blown cable construction.

OS1 Single Mode Tight Buffered Cable

Each fiber has its own protective two-layer coating (color-coded for identification). One layer is plastic and the other is waterproof acrylate. The tight buffer allows for a smaller, lighter weight cable that is more flexible and crush resistant than Loose Tube. Installation is easier as there is no gel to clean up and no fan out kit required for connector termination.

Application:(Indoor Use) – moderate distance telco local loops, LANs and point-to-point links in cities, buildings, factories, office parks or campuses. OS1 can support speeds up to 10G and distances up to about 10km (6 miles).

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (9)

OS2 Single Mode Loose Tube Cable

All fibers are essentially bare other than their outer coating. Each fiber has a colored coating for identification. Other than this coating the fiber “floats” within a rugged, abrasion resistant, oversized tube usually filled with optical gel which protects the fibers from moisture. Connector termination requires a fan out kit.

Application:(Outdoor Use) high fiber count, long distance telco backbone and backhaul lines, direct bury applications along streets and railroads. OS2 can support speeds up to 100G and distances up to 200km (124 miles).

(Video) Differences Between Multi-mode and Single-mode Fiber Cables (Ep. 33)
Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (10)

Single Mode Fiber Summary

Single Mode jacket color is typically yellow for jumpers but you may see a variety of colors depending on the application and the outer jacket type.

Single mode fiber is the standard choice for high data rates or long distance spans and can carry signals at much higher speeds than multimode fibers with less signal attenuation and external interference. It offers many advantages over multimode fiber and is an effective way to future proof your network cabling infrastructure.

Keeping things Clean

The most common problem we see with any fiber network is a dirty connector. Small particles of dirt and dust can partially block the light signal causing degradation. It is important to keep the connectors clean and free of dirt.

Fiber Optic Cable Types – Multimode and Single Mode (11)The best way to clean them is with a fiber optic cleaning box. This is a small handheld plastic box housing fiber optic cleaning tape. These are disposable boxes that typically can clean about 500 connectors before needed refilled.

A good fiber optic cleaning kit will contain everything you contain everything you need to keep your fiber connectors clean.

A couple other tools that are extremely helpful when testing and troubleshooting fiber are a fiber inspection scope and a visual fault locator.

The fiber inspection scope allows you to inspect the fiber connector ends for dirt or any scratches or impairments that might be blocking the light from passing through the connector. A visual fault locator of VFL, sends a visible red laser through the fiber helping you identify if the fiber is cracked or exceeding the maximum bend radius.

(Video) Differences Between OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4 & OM5 Multimode Fibers | FS

Keeping the fiber connector ends clean is the single most important thing you can do to ensure your signal remains in good working order. While this article is not about fiber cleaning, we thought it was important enough to mention here. We will add an article focused on fiber optic cleaning soon.

FAQs

Which is better to use single-mode or multimode fiber cable? ›

Although single-mode optical fiber holds advantages in terms of bandwidth and reach for longer distances, multimode optical fiber easily supports most distances required for enterprise and data center networks, at a cost significantly less than single-mode.

What is single-mode and multimode fiber optic cable? ›

single mode fiber is designed to propagate a single light mode whereas multimode supports multiple simultaneous light modes. This difference impacts bandwidth, signal transmission distance and signal stability which we'll explore later. Additionally, single mode and multimode cables are built differently.

Are multimode and single mode fiber compatible? ›

Note: single mode fiber and multimode fiber are not compatible. You cannot mix multimode and single mode fiber between two endpoints. The optics are not compatible either. Generally, multimode fiber is more cost-effective choice for data center applications up to 550 meters.

What are the 2 types of fiber optic cable? ›

There are two types of fibre optic cables – multimode and single-mode. Multimode optical fibre or OFC is capable of carrying multiple light rays (modes) at the same time as it has varying optical properties at the core. Single-mode fibre has a much smaller core size (9 microns).

Which type of fiber-optic cable is the most widely used? ›

A standard multimode fiber-optic cable (the most common brand of fiber-optic cable) uses an optical fiber with a 62.5-micron core and 125-micron cladding diameter. This is commonly designated as 62.5/125 optical fibers.

What type of fiber-optic cable is used for Internet? ›

There are two types of fiber optic cabling, single mode and multimode. Single mode, which can transmit a single wavelength of light long distances, is used primarily for WAN connections. Multimode can transmit multiple signals at one tim, but is more limited in length and typically used in LANs.

What size is single mode fiber? ›

The diameter of a single mode core is 9µm. Both fiber types have a cladding diameter of 125 µm or microns.

Where is single mode fiber used? ›

Single-mode fibre are used almost universally in telecommunications over 1 km or so and are generally used at the 1300 nm and 1550 nm wavelengths where attenuation is low and sources and detectors are available.

Where is multimode fiber used? ›

Multi-mode optical fiber is a type of optical fiber mostly used for communication over short distances, such as within a building or on a campus. Multi-mode links can be used for data rates up to 100 Gbit

100 Gbit
40 Gigabit Ethernet (40GbE) and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE) are groups of computer networking technologies for transmitting Ethernet frames at rates of 40 and 100 gigabits per second (Gbit/s), respectively.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › 100_Gigabit_Ethernet
/s.

What is the maximum distance for single mode fiber? ›

Single-mode fibre can go as far as 40 km or more without hurting the signal, making it ideal for long-haul applications.

Can you go from single-mode to multimode? ›

To convert Single Mode to Multimode, or extend a Multimode network, Fiber to Fiber Media Converters are the devices to use.

What is the maximum distance for multimode fiber? ›

1. Choose the Best Fiber for Your Application
Multimode Fiber TypeFast Ethernet (100 Mb) Distance Limit10 Gigabit Ethernet Distance Limit
OM12 km33 m
OM22 km82 m
OM32 km300 m
OM42 km400 m
1 more row
11 Mar 2022

How many types of fiber are there? ›

There are 2 different types of fiber -- soluble and insoluble. Both are important for health, digestion, and preventing diseases.

What are the three types of fiber optic cables? ›

There are three types of fiber optic cable: single mode, multimode and plastic optical fiber (POF).

What color is single-mode fiber? ›

Fiber optic cable jacket colors can make it fast and simple to recognize exactly which type of cable you are dealing with. For example, the color yellow clearly identifies a single mode cable, while orange indicates multimode.

Why LED is used in multimode fiber? ›

the LEDs used for lower speeds. Its development extended the distances over which multimode fiber cable can transmit high data rates.

Which cable has highest bandwidth? ›

While fiber optic cable can deliver the same types of signals with much wider bandwidth, faster speed and higher frequencies. It's made of very thin, pliable tubes of glass or plastic.

What type of cable is used for internet? ›

An Ethernet cable is used for faster speeds, like Cat 5e and Cat 6e (or higher). Ethernet cables connect your modem, router, computer, and other wired Internet-capable devices to carry broadband signals.

What is fiber cable made of? ›

Fiber optic cable is made of many thin strands of coated glass fibers. Each measures about eight microns - that's smaller than a strand of human hair. Digitized information is “coded,” or placed on to light pulses for transmission. It travels along the glass fiber at the speed of light - 186,000 miles per second.

Why is fibre optic used? ›

Fiber optic cables are commonly used because of their advantages over copper cables. Some of those benefits include higher bandwidth and transmit speeds. Fiber optics is used for long-distance and high-performance data networking.

What is the speed of single mode fiber? ›

Fiber Speed

Single mode fiber and multimode fiber are capable of achieving the same speed from 1Gbps to 100Gbps. Since the transmission radius of single mode fiber is smaller than that of multimode fiber, a single mode fiber can only be propagated by one beam during signal transmission.

What is the difference between single and multi mode fiber? ›

Single mode fiber has a smaller core than multimode and is suitable for long haul installations. Single mode systems are generally more expensive. Multimode fiber has a larger core and is recommended for fiber runs less than 400 m (1300 feet).

What wavelength is multimode fiber? ›

There are three main wavelengths used for fiber optics—850 nm and 1300 nm for multi-mode and 1550 nm for single-mode (1310 nm is also a single-mode wavelength, but is less popular).

Why is it called multimode fiber? ›

What Does Multi-Mode Fiber Mean? Multi-mode fiber is a type of optical fiber designed to carry multiple light rays or modes simultaneously, each at a marginally different reflection angle inside the optical fiber core.

What is mode of fiber? ›

Fiber types

There are basically three types of optical fiber: single mode, multimode graded index, and multimode step-index. They are characterized by the way light travels down the fiber and depend on both the wavelength of the light and the mechanical geometry of the fiber.

What are the types of single mode? ›

Single Mode Fiber Types: OS1 vs OS2

When it comes to single mode fiber types, it can be categorized into OS1 and OS2 fiber, which are SMF fiber specifications. OS1 and OS2 are standard single mode optical cables respectively used with wavelengths of 1310nm and 1550nm with a maximum attenuation of 1 dB/km and 0.4 dB/km.

What does multimode mean? ›

Definition of multimode

: having or involving more than one mode a multimode camera a car with multimode traction control.

Why single mode fiber are used for long distance? ›

Single Mode Fiber Distance and Bandwidth

Designed for long-distance communication, a single mode fiber cable allows light signals to travel more than 10 miles, a much longer distance than multimode. Single mode fiber also accommodates much higher bandwidths than multimode.

What is the size of the core in multimode fiber? ›

Multimode fibers comes in a variety of core sizes between 7um and 3mm, of which the most usual are 50um, 62.5um, 100um and 200um.

What is the shortest distance for single mode fiber? ›

The data sheet "Cisco SFP Modules for Gigabit Ethernet Applications Data Sheet" says "the minimum cable distance for all SFPs listed (multimode and single-mode fiber) is 6.5 feet (2 m)."

How many modes are in single mode fiber? ›

Single mode optical fiber actually supports two orthogonal polarization modes. In typical transmission fiber the two modes are nearly degenerate and couple strongly such that power is easily transferred from one mode to the other.

How many strands of fiber are in a single mode? ›

In a standard fiber cable, each group of 12 strands is encased in a small tube that itself is one of those 12 colors. A fiber cable that has 144 strands, is comprised of 12 different colored tubes that each contain 12 different colored fiber strands.

How do I convert single-mode fiber to multimode? ›

Coupling Different Fiber Types with a Media Converter

In practice, this means the TL-MC-1S1S will receive signals from single mode fiber and re-transmit them onto multimode fiber or vice versa. For proper operation, the TL-MC-1S1S requires SFP modules that are compatible with the formats of fiber being connected.

How do I know if I have single-mode and multimode Media Converter? ›

What is the Difference Between Singlemode and Multimode Fiber ...

Is SFP single-mode? ›

There are two types of SFP transceivers, Single-mode SFP and Multi-mode SFP, both work with a different kind of optical fiber. The Single-mode (also known as Mono-mode) fibers are used with Single-mode SFP transceivers, whereas Multi-mode optical fibers are used with Multi-mode SFP transceivers.

How do you calculate fiber distance? ›

A total fiber loss calculation is made based on the distance x the loss factor. Distance in this case the total length of the fiber cable, not just the map distance. Type of fiber – Most single mode fibers have a loss factor of between 0.25 (@ 1550nm) and 0.35 (@ 1310nm) dB/km.

How long can fiber optic run? ›

Modern fiber optic cables can carry a signal quite a distance -- perhaps 60 miles (100 km). On a long distance line, there is an equipment hut every 40 to 60 miles.

What is OM in fiber optic cable? ›

What are OM and OS type fiber optic cables? Fiber optic cables used in telecommunication are broadly categorized in two types – Multimode fiber and Single mode fiber cables. Multimode fiber cable is prefixed with 'OM' and Single mode fiber cable is prefixed with 'OS'.

Can you mix SM and MM fiber? ›

Don't Mix and Match

Single mode electronics and connectors only work with single mode fiber, and multimode, likewise, only works with multimode. This is due to the difference in core diameters between fiber types, as well as light wavelengths used for transmission.

Does MMF work SMF? ›

1. It is possible to interconnect two devices using SMF interface at one end and MMF receiver at another one.

Which of the following SFP is compatible with single mode fibers? ›

Solution 1: MCP Cable—Single-mode In and Multimode Out

SFP is the special type of transceiver that can both support single-mode and multimode fibers.

Why do single mode fibers are used for large distance communications rather than multimode fibers? ›

Designed for long-distance communication, a single mode fiber cable allows light signals to travel more than 10 miles, a much longer distance than multimode. Single mode fiber also accommodates much higher bandwidths than multimode.

What color is single-mode fiber? ›

Fiber optic cable jacket colors can make it fast and simple to recognize exactly which type of cable you are dealing with. For example, the color yellow clearly identifies a single mode cable, while orange indicates multimode.

How do I convert single-mode fiber to multimode? ›

Coupling Different Fiber Types with a Media Converter

In practice, this means the TL-MC-1S1S will receive signals from single mode fiber and re-transmit them onto multimode fiber or vice versa. For proper operation, the TL-MC-1S1S requires SFP modules that are compatible with the formats of fiber being connected.

What wavelength is multimode fiber? ›

There are three main wavelengths used for fiber optics—850 nm and 1300 nm for multi-mode and 1550 nm for single-mode (1310 nm is also a single-mode wavelength, but is less popular).

What is SMF cable used for? ›

SMF is used for long distance communication, and MMF is used for distances of 500m or less. Each type is equally as effective when chosen for the proper communication device.

Which is better SMF or MMF? ›

The most significant difference between SMF and MMF is that SMF provides higher spectral efficiency. It can support more traffic over a single fiber using more channels at higher speeds. In MMF, cabling support for higher bit rates is limited by its large core size.

Why are SMF optical cables more costly than MMF optical cables? ›

The Primary Differences MMF and SMF Optic Cables

Only a single wavelength is required for SMF fiber optics. As mentioned, costs can be reduced by using MMF, but with larger core sizes also mean that designers can create a lower cost electronic device.

How do I know if my SFP is single mode or multimode? ›

Single mode SFP module has a narrower laser wavelength, which works mainly in 1310nm and 1550nm wavelength. Whereas multimode SFP module works in 850nm wavelength due to the larger core size. The color coded bale clasp and color arrow of single mode SFP modules are generally designed in blue, yellow or purple.

What type of fiber is used for SFP? ›

It is mainly used with copper or fiber optic cables. Its small form factor makes it ideal for areas that may not be very accessible. Compatible with duplex Multimode or Singlemode fiber optic cable as well as simplex cables. Supports wavelengths up to 1310nm for Multimode and 1550nm for Singlemode.

Why is single mode more expensive? ›

The rise in cost comes into play when the transceiver's characteristics are combined with the necessity for higher-precision alignment and tighter connector tolerances to smaller core diameters. Overall, this causes higher transceiver prices, and ultimately a steeper price tag for single-mode fiber systems as a whole.

Videos

1. What is the Difference Between Singlemode and Multimode Fiber Optic Cables?
(Video Products Inc)
2. Singlemode Fiber vs Multimode Fiber
(Jonathan Simpson)
3. Fiber Optics: Cable types, bandwidth, and distance limitations
(Moutasim Mousaad)
4. Types of Optical fiber| Sekho Asani sey | single mode vs multimode fiber 🔥 🔥🔥
(Sekho Asani sey)
5. Fiber Connectors: ST, FC, SC, LC, & MT-RJ
(Sunny Classroom)
6. Understanding Fibre Optic Cables & Types with Network Switches & Patch Panels
(Jafer Sabir)

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